Israel’s parliament dissolves, sets 5th election in 4 years
Israel’s parliament voted Thursday to dissolve itself and send the country to the polls in November for the fifth time in less than four years.
Yair Lapid, Israel’s foreign minister and architect of the outgoing coalition government, will become the country’s caretaker prime minister just after midnight on Friday. He will be the 14th person to hold that office, taking over from Naftali Bennett, Israel’s shortest serving prime minister.
The government collapsed just over a year after it was formed in a historic move that saw longtime leader Benjamin Netanyahu ousted after 12 years in power by a coalition of ideologically diverse parties, the first to include an Arab faction.
The motion to dissolve passed with 92 lawmakers in favor, and none opposing, after days of bickering by coalition and opposition lawmakers over the date of new elections and other last minute legislation.
New elections will be held on November 1.
The move brings a formal end to a political experiment in which eight parties from across the Israeli spectrum tried to find common ground after a period of prolonged gridlock in which the country held four elections in two years.
The upcoming elections are an extension of Israel’s protracted political crisis, at the heart of which sits Netanyahu and his ongoing corruption trial. The four deadlocked elections in the previous three years were largely referendums on Netanyahu’s fitness to serve while facing charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.
Lapid, a former talk-show host who heads a center-left party, is expected to campaign as caretaker prime minister to keep the job as the main alternative to Netanyahu, and will likely get an early boost when he welcomes President Joe Biden to the country next week.
Polls by Israeli media show Netanyahu and his allies gaining seats, although it is unclear whether they would have enough to form a 61-seat majority in the 120-member Knesset. If neither he nor anyone else succeeds in doing so, Israel could go to elections yet again.